Technology has clearly invaded our lives. Smartphone and gadget addiction is an epidemic spreading by the day. People are living in the fast lane, so absorbed in the digital world of games and entertainment, in their busy and crazy work schedules. Yes, we are moving ahead at a very fast pace, but I often wonder if people have the time to sit back and reflect upon the past. In this futuristic frenzy, are we going to forget our history? I am in particular, wondering about those who have had a close association with the Second World War. Are we today able to realize how such wars affect lives? What about the soldiers who suffer and die? Do we have the time and patience to look back through the pages of history, and remember those soldiers who died fighting for us?
I feel the time is ripe now to not just sit and wonder, but prove in action that those anonymous soldiers who died fighting for us are not forgotten. Their sacrifices have contributed to our history. Things would have been different if not for those men who died fighting for us.
So, I declared my project "FschJg-auf-Krad" My sole mission was to visit the former battlefields and soldiers' graveyards, and to offer them wreaths, and promote the message of peace. Those lives that were lost need to be remembered, so that we and the generations to come understand the value of peace. Only the knowledge of what transpired during the two world wars, will make people realize how important it is to save life, and cherish peace. It will open our eyes to the bitter truth behind wars, about those power-hungry warmongers who benefit from wars and conveniently look the other way, while innocent people suffer and dread. We must understand that war involves lives of real people. It is not a game, where we can press the reset button at any time we desire.
Visiting the soldiers' graveyards left an everlasting impression on my mind. Every single holy cross represented one life. Sadly, in the German graveyards, I often saw that one tombstone had multiple names carved on it. How ironical, as each of those names clubbed together after death, where in reality different entities, with separate identities, each unique life must have -had dreams, and hopes of their own, and left behind a family, a mother, a wife who gained nothing but endless sorrow and cries. . Let us not forget those soldiers, let us learn from our past, and understand how important peace truly is for us.
I am not one of those who would wait for others to take the first step, or just sit quietly with all these thoughts running in my head. I am also not the one who would wake up one morning and randomly go out on the street sporting emblems of peace, with messages written on a placard. I am a doer. I believe in making things happen and getting the work done. Seriously dedicated to this cause, with sincere passion being my driving force, I decided to withdraw whatever little I had saved in the bank to get myself an old-timer sidecar, something, that would help grab the attention of people and make them willing to talk to me. Sometimes, a conversation is all that one needs to touch other's life and bring about a change..
I started riding across Europe on my motorbike from 2015. The list of places I want to visit seems to be big, and so is my determination! Life is important, and peace is of the highest value for us. Let us not forget that at any cost.
Don't just live life without a care in the world. You must know, care, and appreciate what life has offered us in the past, what it is bringing us in the present and thereby be more informed and aware of what the future could look like.
A reporter once asked a man on the street: "What do you think is worst - a person not knowing what is going on around him, the sheer lack of knowledge or ignorance?"
To which the man replied: "I don't know, and I don't care"
Ironical, isn't it? Don't just live life without a care in the world. One must know, care, and appreciate what life has offered us in the past, what it is bringing us in the present and thereby be more informed and aware of what the future could look like.
I was born in Kiel, northern Germany. I have been a Paratrooper. After active military service I relocated to Japan and established a company. Presently, I live and work in Osaka.
Whenever I get some time, I devote it to study history. I am also an avid motorcycle enthusiast. I have been repairing and riding vintage motorcycles for more than 30 years.
Through my yearly soldier-memorial tours, I try my best to ensure that people don't forget those who gave up their lives for their country. I like to remind the living generations of the value of peace, with the hope that we all can stand united in promoting peace in Europe, and the world at large. Honesty, uprightness, reliability, striving for perfection, reason, and logic are the characteristics that I most admire in people, and these are also the traits that have influenced my own life.
These traits have also inspired me in this project "FschJg-auf-Krad" , which is a non-political and non-profit
These soldiers-memorial-motorcycle-tours are my contribution to all the fallen whose legacy should never be forgotten.
"Only the forgotten are really dead."
Would you like to support me on my project? If yes, then please check the route that I will be riding through (to be posted about one month before the tour starts, or over mail on request to gerd (at) fschjg-auf-krad.com).
Donations are welcomed in the form of:
- Gasoline (super, 95 octane)
- Engine oil (15W 40)
- Transmission fluid (sae 80)
- Spare parts
- Drinking water
- Over-night place to stay
- Camping space for my tent
- Wreath (Vergissmeinnicht)
- Help print postcards and stickers
- Help plan tours (route planning, ferries connections and schedules, locating historical places, research of graveyards/graves of the fallen soldiers)
- Project promotion Facebook/Twitter share, media)
...would be highly appreciated.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
What is the meaning of "FschJg-auf-Krad"?
"FschJg": This is a German military short-cut for "Fallschirmjäger" -> "paratrooper".
"Krad": "Kraftrad": "motorcycle"
Therefore: "paratrooper on a motorcycle"
In short, what kind of project is this?
I am driving with my vintage motorcycle to former battlefields and soldiers' graveyards of world war one and two, to offer wreaths. The memorial-tours are reported along with text, photos and videos, to remind people of what had happened at those places, with the hope that they would appreciate and value 'peace' more.
This project is also for better understanding between the different countries in Europe.
This project is also for better understanding between the different countries in Europe. By driving across all these countries and talking to people randomly, a lot of interaction and exchange of thoughts take place. While I share a bit about myself and Germany, I also get to learn a lot from others about their country, their culture, history and heritage. This exchange of knowledge helps better understand the state of the matter, both in the present as well as what had transpired in the past.
What made you start this project?
As a former soldier (soldiers actually don't like to be called "former" soldier, as being a soldier is more than just a job. Once a soldier, always a soldier. Also, the connection between the soldiers is very unique and special, whether they are active, in reserve or retired), I care for my comrades, as they care for me. This special bond is hard to explain.. We also care for those who are no longer with us. To never forget their sacrifice is equally important to us.
Is there any political thought or attention?
No, none at all. This project is totally non-political.
Are you trying to make profit with this project?
No. This project is non-profit. I bear all the expenses. -I do have some support, mostly from soldiers (Germans and foreign) who support me with goods, like gas for the Krad, or a meal, or a place to stay for the night.
What are you trying to accomplish with this project?
1. To remember those who sacrificed themselves for their country.
2. Learn more about history and remind people of the value of peace.
3. For better understanding between the nations.
4. To learn more about different places and people, and to listen to their opinions.
Where do you sleep at night?
If possible, I put up my tent somewhere along the way, but mostly I stay at camping sites, so I can make a fire, take shower and so on. Sometimes I stay with friends, friends made online who support my project. My budget is small, so no hotels!
Are there really no political intentions behind the project?
No, really not. This project is not connected to any political party or intention, neither left, nor right, there is no political motivation, intention or connect, whatsoever.
Why this motorcycle, vintage sidecar?
Well, normal regular motorcycle will not draw attention for my project. But with this Krad, wherever I go, people find it fascinating and come forward to talk to me. Their interest is first in the Krad and then they learn about me, where I come from, and learn about the project. I also carry postcards in several languages to explain the project better to those I meet along my journey.
The positive reaction of all the people I met so far came as a bit of a surprise to me.
What is the meaning of this black and white sign you have on your sidecar?
This is a symbol, I created for this project, those memorial tours.
It shows the two colours - black and white - which stands for simplicity and clear lines. The iron cross is a German symbol, which honours courage of one for his country. This iron cross, in this form as it shows on my sign (Wappen), was there since 1813, during the battles against Napoleon Bonaparte and then later in other battles, including world war one and two.
Do you visit 'only' German soldiers graveyards?
No, not really. I mostly visit the German soldiers' graveyards, as the graveyards of the former allied forces already get a lot of attention. I also visit those of the former enemy as well. I also visit graveyards of the civilian victims of the wars.
How can I support you?
Follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and write about my project. Share reports and images with my links.
If you would like to support me on the way, then maybe with some food, or a place to stay, gasoline or maybe just by having a cup of coffee and a chat!
If it is in your power, then you could maybe organise an interview, or a short documentary about my project and me. I speak German, English and Japanese.
If you like, you could also join me on my tour for a few kilometres with your motorcycle or car.
Reports of my memorial tours, are here on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.Facebook & Instagram: FschJg-auf-Krad
What are your future plans?
I want to visit more places in Europe. At the moment, I have about 70 more places to visit. So, tell me if I have missed out on some sites, I would love to add more to my list.
There is a book on the way, and I would also like to drive around the world on my Krad.
If there are more questions, then please write me (gerd (at) fschjg-auf-krad.com)
As a member you will:
- Have access to all information regarding the tour.
- Give ideas and suggestions, before the tour and even when on the way.
- You can send SMS to give information if you like, for example:
.. Weather information of the region
.. Suggest places to go or to stay over night
.. Suggest directions and roads
.. Give warnings, if needed, about natural disaster or other dangers
.. Or just meet up and say hello in real time.
- Join me during the tour for a few kilometres
my Mother, Manfred, Peter, Bernd Reinhardt, Romain Pascal, Ralph, Marc, Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge, Nicki, Thomas, Takeshi, Tietze, Schwabbel, Volker & Claudia, Sanni & Walter, Susanne & Dirk, Tony, Tomoyo Takemoto, Kubota san, Shotaro Sawada, Gargi Chakravarty, Fritjof P., Andreas Huber, Haruki Shimokoshi, Christian Breitenbach, Mick Boon, Chris Roth, Henning Hartmann, Tatiana Schmidt, Juliet Delta, Yasuda san, Noriko, Ingried, Helga, der Schmied nebenan, Jaylon J., Doris, Fritjof, Torsten, Joonas, Tarui san, Lorenzo, Raphael, Lenny von LE-Zweiradtechnik, Jun Miyake (printed the banners, FB: jun.miyake.357), Mike Bravo, Bernd Goetting, Ulli, Thomas Bartz, Heino Knacke, Michael Krueger, Thomas Basenau, Helmut Ditzel, my good friends on facebook, YouTube & Instagram and maybe 100 people I talked to on my Tour, who were interested and supportive
Thank you also to Andreas for the T-shirt design.